By Donna Gordon Blankinship Associated Press
SEATTLE — Washington is among the top 10 states for enrolling people in health insurance since the Affordable Care Act took effect in October, according to new data released Wednesday by the federal government.
The states that have convinced more people to buy insurance through a state-run exchange or the federal marketplace are — California, Colorado, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.
Between Oct. 1, 2013, and Feb. 1, Washington enrolled nearly 90,000 people in private insurance through its new exchange. Nearly 80 percent of them are getting a discount on their insurance because of their income level. Another 85,000 people have signed up for private insurance but still need to pay their first premium. Open enrollment for the new health insurance program goes through the end of March.
Nationally, nearly 3.3 million people signed up between Oct. 1 and Feb. 1. The states have a long way to go before they reach the national goal of 7 million sign-ups by the end of March.
Before health care reform took effect, an estimated 1 million Washington residents lacked health insurance. The Washington exchange set a goal of selling private insurance to 280,000 people by Jan. 1, 2015.
Another 280,000 people are also new to health insurance in Washington state, but they were eligible for free insurance through Medicaid. Among the new people on Medicaid, about 185,000 were able to sign up for the free insurance because the state expanded eligibility to people who made more money, a feature of the Affordable Care Act at least partially paid for by the federal government.
Washington appears to be enrolling a slightly older group of people in private insurance, with only 23 percent of enrollees in the 18-34 age group.
Many states have more than 30 percent of their new enrollees in this age group.
This demographic information may change over time because most states have not released as much information about their insurance customers as Washington state. Only California and New York appear to have turned over details about all their insurance shoppers.